My Yoga Retreat - Part 1
For Christmas, I asked Jason for one thing in particular...a gift certificate to Yogaville. Yup, there's an actual place called Yogaville, who knew?! He splurged and got me a certificate that covered a single room for a welcome weekend yoga retreat. Yogaville is just outside Charlottesville, about a 3 hour drive from Mt Vernon. I decided to go over a long weekend, working on Friday, and leaving around lunchtime. It was an easy and relaxing drive. I arrived and checked in at the main center with just enough time to find my room, change over and get to my first class. The accommodations were minimal, but perfect.
My room for the weekend. The bathroom was just off to the back right of this photo. When I arrived, it was freezing, but the heat kicked in and it was perfect by the time I returned to the room.
My first class, hatha yoga, was a mixture of asanas and pranayama - poses and breathing - ending with yoga nidra - deep relaxation. What a great start! The welcome weekend included vegetarian meals prepared by LYTs (living yoga training personnel). These LYTs come to Yogaville for no less than 1 month and do an intense practice of mediation and yoga and work at the ashram in a variety of jobs. After a delicious dinner, we had a free evening to explore the three shrines which had been lit up for the night.
I headed up the hill to Kailash to see the Nataraja Shrine. It was 18 degrees, but such a peaceful experience, I barely noticed. From Kailash, you can look down and see the LOTUS shrine and it's amazing.
This is Ganesha - widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva (god) of intellect and wisdom.
The view of the LOTUS shrine from Kailash.
Then I visited the LOTUS - Light of Truth Universal Shrine - the most prominent of the three and a site to behold. The mission of Yogaville is to practice, live and impart the Integral Yoga teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda, to experience Supreme Peace and Joy, and to share that Peace and Joy with one and all. Swami Satchidananda is the guru who established Yogaville in 1986. The LOTUS celebrates the unity behind the diversity of worldwide religions. In simple terms, they believe that all religions seek a universal truth, but get there along different paths. No path is better or worse than another.
The symbol of Yogaville, incorporating many religious symbols within the petals of the lotus flower.
Below are a few images from the bottom floor of the LOTUS that honor each religion.
No shoes are allowed throughout the ashram. Of course this includes the shrines and buildings where the classes were held, but it also includes the dining hall!
A lighted statue in the LOTUS.
The top floor of the LOTUS is the actual shrine. Rays of light extend from each religion symbol and their primary teaching to the top of the dome, coming together in one beam of light.
Atop a hill behind the LOTUS, you find Chidambaram where the guru is interred.
This tour ended my first night at Yogaville. It was well below freezing, and I wandered the shrines alone and in silence. Definitely outside my element, but isn't that why I came?